Tag Archives: museum Termas-da-Azenha

Traffic in Portugal: bumper stickers and priority givers

Traffic is traffic you’d say

Yes, true, but it is just a little bit different everywhere.

And because you (probably) don’t drive your own car, you naturally drive a little more carefully.

Hopefully this helps to make you feel confident behind the wheel.

Point One: the roads are not too good

Certainly in the direction of Soure, there is plenty of bumpin’. So don’t drive too fast, because the car can only take so much.

What many Portuguese people do (including me): drive in the middle of the road, you’ll miss all the potholes and treeroot marks on the side. Only when you see an oncoming car coming you go to your own side. (We drive on the right side of the street, by the way ;))

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Brings me to the following point:

anticipatory driving. Driving is of course about rules, but there are very few people here (read: police) who pay attention to this. So it’s mainly about whether you take your responsibility. If you don’t have much experience yet, it might be a bit trickier, but a good exercise.

Look ahead and calculate what your fellow road users will do.

(And what the road is going to do, because sometimes a bend seems to be a piece of cake, but once you get in it’s quite a challenge!)

That was once a lot more difficult, because in the past you could experience that a farmer just drove his old Ford with 30 kilometers unexpectedly onto the main road. Without looking up or down.

You’ll not experience that anymore. Those people are extinct, and their shiny vintage Fords too. The new generation drives around in neat new cars, all of which still have to be paid off, so they won’t do any of those tricks. They’re instead very careful – with their own car.

Tail gating

Many of our foreign guests complain about that exciting habit. And yes, I get it, because I’ve already had one on the back twice. That is never your fault, but annoying because of all the hassle that you get over you immediately. Filling out insurance papers is nobody’s hobby.

The first time it happened to me was because I was braking in a reflex for a dog that jumped onto the road just before my van. Now that is a rarity, and you always respond well with your brake reflex, but the lady behind me wasn’t paying attention.

Braked but slipped (this point will come back later).

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Important point: what can you do about tail gating?

In fact: nothing. If you find it really annoying, and you notice that it makes you nervous, then just continue to breathe, and find a place to get out of the way. Grumbling, swearing and becoming nervous will not help you and your life (and that of your passengers) forward in a positive way.

Just continue at your own pace, and keep on smiling. Don’t be tempted by a power game.

Rain

With rain everything becomes different. We don’t have that wonderful asphalt here that you have in the north. The portuguese asphalt becomes slippery with rain or high humidity. That means that you have to drive a little slower, and especially in the winds and curves and bends. (We have a lot of those here!)

If you feel that you are going into a slip:

remain calm, steer a bit to the other side(don’t exaggerate) and especially don’t brake too hard. Then you definitely go in a slip. If you feel that you no longer have control of your car, you start pumping brakes. To me it seems a clear term, but for the sake of clarity: a moment to brake and then let go, and that a number of times in succession. You can also apply the parking brake. Moderately.

Snow, frost and associated slippery conditions – we don’t do those things here.

Boom means stop

Sun in your eyes! In the summer you won’t be bothered by that, because then the sun’s nice and high, but otherwise it can be pretty annoying, that sun. A good pair of sunglasses and your sunscreen down helps of course, but sometimes you go – just sayin’ – with the rising sun to the pastelaria, to buy fresh bread. Or you want to see the sun sink into the ocean. In both cases you will no longer be able to see anything because of the angle of the sun.

Then don’t drive too fast and in the middle of the road, because then you only know that there are cyclists and hikers on the road when you feel and hear a boom.

What the Portuguese don’t / do in traffic

I’ve rarely seen people use their flashing lights on a roundabout. Flashing lights are being used less and less often. Very annoying if you are waiting or holding back, because you are so nicely anticipatingly driving but have gambled wrong.

Portuguese drive fast. Don’t be tempted to participate if you don’t have your driver’s license for that long. Speeding is quite an art. And not everyone understands that art …

If anyone only looks at a pedestrian crossing, you stop. That’s common, and it’s considered incredibly rude when you drive on. If you really saw it too late, make an apologetic gesture.

The Portuguese are in fact quite polite, also in traffic. We would like to keep it that way, because the bluntness with which people drive in the north is not something you should want.

Priority is given. Let another person go before you and smile. It makes you feel so much better!

Velocidade controlada

Nowadays you’ll find these signs in many places, in combination with a series of traffic lights. If you go faster than 50, the traffic light turns red. You never know if a camera is attached to it, so too bad.

On the way to Coimbra you’ll encounter these a few times.

It is compensated by the fact that you’ll see all traffic lights in Coimbra equipped with a counter. Very handy. This way you can chill out smoothly, because it still takes 68 seconds for you to turn green again.

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Smart driving

Undoubtedly an unnecessary paragraph. Your phone is comfortable in its little corner, and you’ll see all chat messages on arrival.

Now, all the above reads as if you really have to be aware of all kinds of things, driving in Portugal. Not true. It was just to prepare you for some minor changes you will encounter. I hope it helps you to get behind the wheel of your (rental) car confidently and prepared!

Drive safely!

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We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and campsites, with a lots of fun things to do: swimming pool, indoor and outdoor games like pingpong, petanque, a FancyDressingRoom and a small café. You’ll find and paintings everywhere.

The old bathhouse is going to be a museum, where you can see how things have changed. Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation. We have some nice special offers on our site.

You can subscribe to this blog:

You’ll get it every weekend in your mailbox.

On Sunday morning we publish it on our Facebook Page, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

Jogging volunteers and other pleasant things

“Did you know that I was almost arrested for harassment?” Paul asks with a mischievous look in his eyes. “Oh,” I almost recoile but laughing, “do I have to worry now, lock my door at night?”

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He dismisses my remark, clearly looking forward to the story:

“It was when I lived in Nijmegen (Holland), and was jogging there

Every day. I always put my coat and stuff in a little hole in the park, and then I set off. And then I took my coat out of that little hole again, and everything was very easy that way.”

I already laugh because I see him doing it. And it also makes sense. Why would you wear a coat when you go jogging? Why would you not hide it in a little hole because you will need it again afterwards when you walk home? Then you cool off, and you need the protection of your coat.

There is more: “Buhut! On a beautiful day, when I came jogging back to fetch my stuff, suddenly a group of women sat close to my little hole

So when I ran towards them, they were startled – I couldn’t do anything about it, I just didn’t notice – and they started cackling … “and now he really has a sparkle of misschief in his eyes: “… like chickens cackling to each other when they’re hysterical.”

By the way, Paul is a real gentleman. An almost extinct breed. One that will always keep the door open for you, who’ll speak to you patiently even if you come up with the weirdest things, and will never raise his middle finger in traffic.

Very old-fashioned, with good upbringing.

I just wanted to throw that in, that there was nothing fishy in that little hole. Just a jacket

Because yes, a gentleman only jogs in the park. Not in the streets. That’s weird. You don’t do that.

“What are you doing here?! What do you want in that little hole?!” Paul meanwhile continues his story, “they were screaming and pointing, and I just came to get my coat. They just got in the way, nothing more.”  This story is infused with entertainment, but also with indignation. Even after all these years. That they could think that he …

“They called the police, can you believe it?! I received a warning. I still didn’t quite get it. What’s so bad about a man hiding his coat in a little hole in the park?”

It is now the fourth time that Paul has been here. I call him Paulie, after one of the characters in “The Godfather” – one of the films I definitely should see, according to Paulie. The first time he came as a volunteer was in 2013, and did a great job on the ElephantHouse. Socially as well; the boys watched a lot of football together.

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We know each other now. I know that those innocent blue eyes are really innocent, and that this story is about finding a handy hiding place for a useful thing that you will need again later.

A so-called cunning plan

I have to laugh really hard at this story. I can see it right before my eyes: a group of suspicious women who think the worst of a man who is acting a bit weird, and just a little too close.

Uncomfortable for everyone, while it wouldn’t have been necessary at all if your thinking is based on the goodwill of your fellow man. But – a nice story afterwards. My belly hurts from laughing about this idiotic situation.

Would that be the effect of “watching the news”? That you’re looking for something behind everything, because you always hear the rotten-apple-stories?

What do you think? I’m curious!

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<< previous

We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and campsites, with a lots of fun things to do: swimming pool, indoor and outdoor games like pingpong, petanque, a FancyDressingRoom and a small café. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.

The old bathhouse is going to be a museum, where you can see how things have changed. Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation. We have some nice special offers on our site.

You can subscribe to this blog:

You’ll get it every weekend in your mailbox.

On Sunday morning we publish it on our Facebook Page, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

Forensic students in the house!

“Forensic” is a bit of a mysterious word for me. It is probably because it’s full of forensic teams as soon as a crime has to be solved … in the thrillers that I like to read from time to time.

Forensic studies is a broad concept. Luckily. The mystery doesn’t reveal itself quickly.

Why should I be afraid to unravel this mystery? Well, we have a group of interns in the house who are discovering all sorts of things for three months. After all, they are future scientists. They must know things.

Forensic students on investigation

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These students have been here for almost two months now. They’re already halfway through their internship, which lasts a total of three months. It is fairly intensive, I think, not only because of your studies and assignments, but also because of being together. You live for three months with people you previously hardly knew.

The internship supervisor thought it would be a good idea if there was a Dutch owner at the internship location

Good thought! Portuguese is a very complicated language to learn, and unless you have a big talent for languages, it won’t work in 3 months. Especially because you also have to do all kinds of other things of course.

I suspect that forensic studies don’t require such a talent, but rather a beta brain

Now this group hasn’t lived under a rock, so they’re fine. They also write a blog every week from their personal perspective, which among other things describes the experience of digging out a burnt tree, an interview with the fire brigade and a trip to Coimbra. They’re fine.

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I have read their blogs with some restraint, because I want so badly to keep the mystery that for me is in the word “forensic”. I’m not a scientist like them, I’m more of a dreamer. If you don’t know what something means, you can fantasize about it so nicely.

I can heartily recommend the blogs (and the rest)!

They are amusing, nicely written, and give a good idea of what the life of a forensic trainee is like abroad. (If you’re interested: you can put them in Google Translate, because they’re written in dutch, of course). You get a bit wiser from those blogs, but the mystery has been maintained. Very nice. What I now know more than before is that insects have to watch their steps, because as soon as a beetle in their blissfull innocence would walk into their house, it will be put in a jar immediately. To study it.

I would find that so sad for such a beautiful rhino beetle …

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I can keep on dreaming. And they get to know everything. Well, maybe not everything, but a lot.

You can’t have it any better!

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<< previous

We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and campsites, with a lots of fun things to do: swimming pool, indoor and outdoor games like pingpong, petanque, a FancyDressingRoom and a small café. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.

The old bathhouse is going to be a museum, where you can see how things have changed. Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation. We have some nice special offers on our site.

You can subscribe to this blog:

You’ll get it every weekend in your mailbox.

On Sunday morning we publish it on our Facebook Page, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

Tai Chi Chuan has landed in Portugal

If I were a cook, I would probably be the thinnest cook in the world.
After a whole week of cooking, I am full of food smells. It already starts in the morning after breakfast, because the group wants to have a warm lunch. Following the good Portuguese example.

It’s Friday now, the last day of the (dutch) Tai Chi group

The group comes here to do intensive training. Far from civilization, no chance to escape! Tai Chi boot camp.

It already starts before breakfast with a session on the FairyTaleTerrace. Practicing Tai Chi means concentration, all movements are figured out. And then your balance … it can take years to learn everything.
Hence an intensive training week.

The teachers wear a special suit. Chic though!

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They would train a lot outside. No problem, because we have almost one hectare at our disposal. The camping field, the field behind the swimming pool and the FairyTaleTerrace soon become their favorites. They just aren’t so lucky with the weather. Sunday was acceptable, but on Monday it started to rain.

Now it never rains for days in a row in Portugal, so that makes a difference, but the grass is wet of course. Fortunately it’s warm for the time of the year. 21º is fine.

We would cook for them that week

Now I am a fairly unstable cook. When my settings are on “cooking”, like in summer, it goes fine, naturally, I throw just the right herbs in the right amount on delicious dishes. But now I was in mosaic mode, and I don’t really care about food.

This was a bit of a challenge, but luckily there is enough experience to nevertheless put a nice meal on the table. And as the week progresses, we get a kind of routine, my son Broes and me. The only thing that I still find difficult is to start – for example – pulling broth at 9 o’clock in the morning. Then your entire kitchen smells like a winter Sunday afternoon, while it is still summery and early Tuesday morning.

Your biological clock just gets confused!

Normally I eat yogurt with fruit and muesli for lunch, but now my receptors no longer want to participate. They have something like: yeahyeah, byebye, that doesn’t fit together at all, that curry scent and chewing cold kiwi. And in the evening I am so full of all the food smells that I’m no longer hungry. Hence: I would be the thinnest cook in the world.

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Wednesday they went on an excursion to Coimbra

A short training session in the morning, an early lunch, and then with the slow train to Coimbra. They would do a session in the Jardim Botânico – a nice place in the center. I had advised to dine at “A Cozinha da Maria”, in one of the charming alleys near the station, and that advice was followed. Enthusiastic messages the next day! “A Cozinha da Maria” is really worth it!

“We couldn’t come in at first” Matthea tells me, “but when I spied through the window, I saw them in their underwear – they were changing to start their shift!” We laugh together, charmed by such a lovely scene.

And luckily they didn’t mind that Broes and I were in charge of the kitchen here…. “A Cozinha das Termas” is apparently not so bad either!

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<< previous

We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and campsites, with a lots of fun things to do: swimming pool, indoor and outdoor games like pingpong, petanque, a FancyDressingRoom and a small café. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.

The old bathhouse is going to be a museum, where you can see how things have changed. Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation. We have some nice special offers on our site.

You can subscribe to this blog:

You’ll get it every weekend in your mailbox.

On Sunday morning we publish it on our Facebook Page, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

Portuguese culture, part 1: the shutters

We drive through small villages, all known territory. The road to Coimbra has been driven so often, but not so often at night. Between the small villages it’s pitch dark. The crescent moon is very small, it hardly gives any light.

All houses are dark. Shutters closed

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That is not much different than during the day, then all shutters are also often closed. Sometimes you see a house with an open shutters, that is, a gap of about 30 centimeters at most, so that some light enters.

I have still not picked up the ins and outs of the shutter phenomenon

Once, I went with a colleague (20 years ago I worked in an estate agency) during the day to pick something up. “We’re almost passing by, it’s only a small detour, then you can see how I live!”

The atmosphere was like a castle in his house – in the semi-darkness you could still see the huge fireplace with two large armchairs in front. The rest was covered in mysterious shadows, because all the shutters were closed, obviously. “Wow, you live really nice!”

Shutters, incredibly popular in Portugal. Why do you have them and what do you do with them?

The whole concept is completely strange to me. I can’t imagine that I would ever live in a house with shutters. I would feel incredibly locked up, because you can’t just open those buggers.

An old friend (literally old) lived in a house with shutters. At the end, she hardly ever got to the top floor anymore, so it was almost always closed. I continue to find it strange to step into a twilight world, from a radiant day with an eye-pinching sun, where anything suddenly could happen.

We were always chatting in her kitchen, but one day she needed something upstairs. If I please would come with her. But of course, you just tell me what to do.

Upstairs I was struck by the same atmosphere that closed shutters apparently carry with them

That hint of mystery, that slightly exciting semi-darkness, the suspicion of amazing discoveries – I don’t think that a thriller is about to start here, but rather a psychological development of the main characters of this story.

And that indeed started, because everything that came to the surface brought back memories. From the old friend of course. Those shutters ensured that beautiful stories came out that afternoon.

In the Casa Principal of Termas-da-Azenha, where we started our history in our small village, we had wooden shutters. On the inside. That gives a very different atmosphere. You actively exclude the outside world. In the case of rain and storm that’s very pleasant.

When it is a full moon, you can leave them open and enjoy the soft light before you fall asleep

Closed wooden shutters do not provide such a mysterious atmosphere. Maybe because you know you can open them any time you want. And that is different with those nasty shutter straps.

All the shutters were closed to all the houses we drove past last night. I’m used to it now, but there is always the question of holidaymakers who don’t have the experience: “Are those houses inhabited?” Because they remain closed during the day too. And on the weekend too. They simply never open – and if they do, only for these 30 centimeters.

Just like me, most of our guests come from the country where people live in fish bowls – everything is always open. The Netherlands. When the sun starts to shine: everything will be opened. In the evening everyone in the living room with all the lights on: curtains and everything open.

I did exactly that in the beginning. But you are very quick to change that! When the sun starts to shine in summer: close everything, and go inside. Naturally the same with rain. The portuguese way: have lunch together: inside. Turn on TL, turn on TV, close shutters.

Every culture has its own brand. The Shutter phenomenon is just as Portuguese as bacalhau. The following applies to both: you must get used to it!

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<< previous

We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and campsites, with a lots of fun things to do: swimming pool, indoor and outdoor games like pingpong, petanque, a FancyDressingRoom and a small café. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.

The old bathhouse is going to be a museum, where you can see how things have changed. Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation. We have some nice special offers on our site.

You can subscribe to this blog:

You’ll get it every weekend in your mailbox.

On Sunday morning we publish it on our Facebook Page, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

Nice read: Portugal! Portugal! Portugal!

I always read. In the evening before going to bed, to dive into a fantasy world already, before the dreaming starts. In the morning, to start the day calmly, and to shake off the imaginary world of your dreams. I read everything, as long as it fascinates.

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The last book fascinated from page 1. How could it be otherwise with such a title: Portugal! Portugal! Portugal!

During my last visit to Coimbra I got it from friend Anja. We always exchange books. I’d already read something from this author, and enjoyed it, so it was promising:

“Portugal 2019. The ideal holiday destination: beach, mountains and lively cities. A modern European country with highways and wifi. But those who dig a little find the exciting stories below the surface. About what can change within a lifetime. About the struggle of the past, which sometimes plays in the relative calm of today.

Manu, Ana Paula and Andreia are still in my life, three 60-year-old Portuguese who carry the recent history of their country. With them, but especially on my own, I make a time journey through their country, to always end up with today’s Portugal. The stories about the past, my memories and contemporary Portugal, they merge into a book full of nostalgia and zest for life. Portugal is the ideal country for those who love melancholic , but are also bursting with vitality. ”

That is only page 9. I will undoubtedly enjoy this book, being a portuguese-dutch woman

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We’re mixed, a bit in between. We’re no longer Dutch, but we haven’t become Portuguese either. It is a mix of both – and I think that it gives the advantage that you’re an outsider in both cultures.

Then you see more than being in the middle of it. “It” being Holland or Portugal.

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We are actually in 3 cultures, because here in the Termas a bit of our own culture has emerged. Made from the portuguese and the dutch mix, but with influences from all over the world. The volunteers have contributed considerably to this; up to New Zealand, people came to help with the reconstruction of this historic site. And of course the guests. Half of Europe comes by.

Learned a lot from the portuguese. One of those things is a carefree cordiality

I had to get used to it 20 years ago that an old lady just as easily could take your hand and gave you two kissess on your cheeks while you’d only asked her for directions. Men will not approach you so physically – that is mainly reserved for older women. But they are certainly not as shy as northeners – who barely touch each other!

Smiling at each other in traffic, giving priority, waiting patiently in line at the supermarket (no whining!), even indicating that it was your turn instead of pushing ahead. Children who come with to the restaurant, and enjoy themselves at 11 o’clock in the evening. Entire families having a picnic at one of the many picnic spots – with toilets, running water and fixed barbecues.

The whole society in Portugal lives together, it seems

During an unexpected visit by a photographer last week, she suddenly asked: “Have you never regretted it?” She asked why we moved to Portugal at the time. “What is the story behind it?”

No, never regretted it. It hasn’t always been easy, but well, that’s how life is.

Non, je ne regrette rien.

Still very happy with Termas-da-Azenha! Termas-da-Azenha! Termas-da-Azenha!

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<< previous

We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and campsites, with a lots of fun things to do: swimming pool, indoor and outdoor games like pingpong, petanque, a FancyDressingRoom and a small café. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.

The old bathhouse is going to be a museum, where you can see how things have changed. Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation. We have some nice special offers on our site.

You can subscribe to this blog:

You’ll get it every weekend in your mailbox.

On Sunday morning we publish it on our Facebook Page, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

A fairy as inspiration for a new mosaic

Some guests are having such a good time that I spontaneously shout things like: “Oh, and I love you for it!” It was not a shout by itself. That was the answer to: “We couldn’t get ourselves to go. So we stayed.” The fairy laughs: “It’s all the time: one more day. Let’s do one more day.”

And that comment came because I walked through the sala de convívio – the big room, and saw them sitting at “their” table. They’d been there for a week.

Not full time at the table of course.

They also sat by the pool. And they also went shopping. And did a workshop mosaic

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That’s how I like to see it.

It was a pleasant atmosphere in the big hall in the evenings

This couple was sitting at “their” table, one family was playing table tennis, another family was playing a game at the dining tables on the other side of the room, and a man was picking out a book by the book tower.

In the meantime, I was doing the things I have to do. Washing, keeping the swimming pools clean, topping up (Belgian) beer in the bar fridge, answering the e-mail – of the things that every holiday holiday rental and B&B owner must do.

And in the meantime, I fervently wished that the guest who looked like a fairy would also be a real one, and make my wish come true.

My wish was that all the mosaic created so far would be perfectly grouted to the facade of the bathhouse

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Grouting is the least fun thing about mosaics, you are always working on it much longer than you think – even if you think that you will be working on it much longer than you think, it will be even longer.

You get it: not my favorite thing to do.

The result of the grouting, on the other hand, is great. The very last fase is cleaning, but that is usually a piece of cake. Although it is regularly “forgotten”, because after a few hours of grouting you have pain in muscles you didn’t even know you had, and you have those warm bath wrinkles in your other hand. At that point, you don’t feel the need much to wipe that wall once more with a clean dry cloth.

I’m of course talking about a big wall now. Not about a piece of art that you make during a mosaic workshop to take home

My other wish was (can’t you always make 3 wishes if you come across a fairy?) to start with the Dragon. That piece of wall that I had a problem with a few weeks ago, but for which a wonderful idea had fallen out of the sky.

I was eager.

Finally I had a Sunday afternoon, and then another Tuesday morning, and to top it all off, another Wednesday evening. There he was! Finally!

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<< previous

We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and campsites, with a lots of fun things to do: swimming pool, indoor and outdoor games like pingpong, petanque, a FancyDressingRoom and a small café. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.

The old bathhouse is going to be a museum, where you can see how things have changed. Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation. We have some nice special offers on our site.

You can subscribe to this blog:

You’ll get it every weekend in your mailbox.

On Sunday morning we publish it on our Facebook Page, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

The Portuguese take good care of their children

It’s well arranged here, with maternity leave and so on. All other European countries could follow the portuguese example! Mother was allowed to stop working at 4 months. After the child is born, they both stay at home – father for a month, mother for 5 months.

How do I know that? Why would I tell you about that? What do you care about maternity leave in Portugal?

Well, I have breaking news! I have become grandmother for a very tiny little bit!

What do you mean, you ask, how comes that about?

Well, it started like this:

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This is developing as a friendship for life

My youngest son Broes and João Pedro became friends in the first class of the little school, here in Pedrógão. The school existed of 1 classroom, 8 children, and 1 teacher for 4 classes. That was not abnormal for the outskirts in Portugal.

Until about 10 years ago all those schools were kept open. There should be at least 3 children attending. This one closed its doors when JP and Broes had finished fourth grade, and moved to high school.

JP went to Louriçal, Broes to Paião. But they still played regularly

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In Paião, Hugo and Adam joined the group of friends. My eldest son Fausto was of course part of the group. They were all hanging out here, sitting at the large table in the reception (in the separate hang-out section), where they were regularly chatting, joking, gaming, and shouting orders (that’s a part of gaming: “Kill! Kill!”” Go! Go! I’m right behind you! “- and the game that growls back: “So here we fight! You’re going to die!”)

They still play, even though they’re adults now

The group has fallen apart. Adam’s in Ireland, Fausto in the Netherlands, but Broes and Hugo still live in Termas-da-Azenha. João Pedro has also lived here for years, so it feels a bit like he’s a son as well.

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About three years ago he met his great love and moved out to live with her. And now they’ve just had their first child. A beautiful baby boy. Before you know it, all of them are again playing at the table in the reception, because the “grown-up” boys have never stopped doing that. JP comes by regularly, and then there they go again.

In a few years, I bet he’ll be taking his son with him!

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And then the day came. There he is, world citizen number so much.

Cute, isn’t it, a baby? Isn’t he a beautiful boy?

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<< previous

We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and campsites, with a lots of fun things to do: swimming pool, indoor and outdoor games like pingpong, petanque, a FancyDressingRoom and a small café. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.

The old bathhouse is going to be a museum, where you can see how things have changed. Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation. We have some nice special offers on our site.

You can subscribe to this blog:

You’ll get it every weekend in your mailbox.

On Sunday morning we publish it on our Facebook Page, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

The Mother of the water and a misunderstanding

blog_the-mother-of-the-water-and-a-misunderstanding The engineer beckons us to come in. That’s not too bad, it goes smoother than we thought. “We” in this case is my neighbour Josué and I.

(Josué is not really my neighbour, but the farmer who works the adjacent fields. When they’re done working, they often stop by for a cold beer, because working on the fields is dusty and warm. See the photo below.)

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We’re on the road to clear up a misunderstanding about the upcoming change of the Mother of the water

My neighbour was quite excited about recent developments. And not in a good way.

The entire valley is being re-organized. It’s the subject of discussion in many families in the neighbourhood. The Mother of all discussions, you could say, because there are many farmers in this area, and it’s their livelihood.

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Re-arranging fields was not a bad idea, because over the centuries the valley has become a quilt of small pieces of fields, one for each of the heirs. A piece was sold here, a ditch was changed there, because waterways are inscrutable. At a certain point, it was completely unlogical how everything was split up.

As a result, the owner of a piece of land on one side of the valley had to get on his tractor to go to the other side, to his piece of land. And since the valley has many owners, re-allotment would be the only solution

Because of course it wasn’t about one owner. It’s a big valley, and everyone has their share. Meetings were announced, to which all owners were invited, to inform everyone about the upcoming changes.

It is quite an operation, the re-allotment of 330 hectares

According to Josué – I call him the neighbor because he works on the adjacent fields – a mistake has been made, and the engineer wants to dig a ditch straight through his land, and place a watertank on our grounds. A tank to irrigate your plants or trees. Not necessary for us. The few trees on the campsite manage themselves well, standing next to a ditch. Not for neighbour Josué either. For the 2.5 hectares that he cultivates, you need a different caliber watering system.

So we had to go for it. This is how it works in Portugal. It doesn’t help to call; seeing someone in person does.

On the way to Montemor-o-Velho, where the engineer has his office, Josué got even more worked up: “Those bureaucrats are all the same,” he shouts, which I found difficult to deal with, because almost over the pain threshold in that small space that a car is, “He’s behind his desk, and what does he know about the real situation?!”

Now I better not start talking about bureaucrats, because otherwise the two of us would be both screaming and shouting in that car – with frustration.

I therefore withhold from further comment, and try to think about a kind of plan

“We will do it as follows, Josué: he has to explain it to me, because to be honest I don’t quite understand it yet, with that Mother of the water (“Mãe da água ” – the start of a new spring, one of the many Mothers in this watery area) and that tank, and then we’ll see. In any case, I’m not paying 85 euros annually for a tank that I didn’t asked for and that I don’t need.”

“Okay, so you’re going to pretend you’re dumb?” Josué asks and looks at me with appreciation. “Yes, fine, let’s do that. He needs to come by to see what it’s all about.”

Once inside the engineer’s office it’s much easier than the scenario for which we have prepared ourselves

The engineer is a friendly man who’s willing to come by tomorrow. Does that too. Ten o’clock the next morning I hear Josué calling: “O Helena! Helena!” (*)

(this was on another day, a cool beer after work!)

The friendly engineer now fully understands the point. Technical thingy went wrong. The Mother of the water will pass under the road and will be led to a transit ditch. The ditch straight through Josué’s field is canceled, and the watertank ditto.

Problem solved in 10 minutes.

Deep sigh.

(*) Ellen is a weird name in portuguese. Twenty years ago it was translated spontaneously. Since then I am "Helena of the Termas".

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<< previous

We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and campsites, with a lots of fun things to do: swimming pool, indoor and outdoor games like pingpong, petanque, a FancyDressingRoom and a small café. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.

The old bathhouse is going to be a museum, where you can see how things have changed. Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation. We have some nice special offers on our site.

You can subscribe to this blog:

You’ll get it every weekend in your mailbox.

On Sunday morning we publish it on our Facebook Page, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

 

Flow, let go, and now: hold tight, holidaymakers!

“I feel my nerves tighten again,” says the mother of two beautifully dressed daughters at the breakfast table, “that is the approaching departure. The end of our camping holiday. ”

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I know the feeling. You probably too. It’s my fault she feels those nerves coming up.

Please: breathe, relax, let go …

When I came to bring them their fresh cup of coffee, we had a chat about the last holiday-day, and what that does to you, and I said: “The last holiday I remember, everything was very relaxed, and the last day I was running again, doing everything at once: brushing my teeth while I was sitting on the toilet, putting on my shoes at the same time, and simultaneously throwing the last things in my suitcase. Well, then you know: you’re on your way, back to your normal life.”

The anecdote apparently triggered her nerves, but please, let it go! I certainly didn’t want to stress you out

I immediately try to correct my mistake: “No, not necessary. You were just so relaxed. The best holidaymakers ever. You’re very good at that – you don’t need to stress! I’m sorry!”

It’s not that you go back to a hard and miserable life. You’re content and happy with your normal life – isn’t that so for most people? Here and there a difficulty, a thing, sometimes a disaster or a drama, but in general we lead a pleasant life at home.

I have never done any scientific research, but I have a strong suspicion that I’m quite right with this statement.

And this Belgian family is definitely champion in the area of relaxation

I was busy with my mosaic yesterday afternoon (curious? Read the previous blog) and was hiding behind the shadow net that serves as a door to my mosaic spot. My mosaic spot is near the pool, and the sun is shining on it in the afternoon. That’s why I tried to stay in the shade.

Family Champion Relax was in the pool. Dad, mom, and their two daughters of 6 and 4. The youngest learns to swim with the help of an ingenious floating vest, and a diving mask with a nose. I like that a lot. It’s new, and it seems effective, but sometimes it has a comical effect.

(Not on these girls though, they look cute in everything, they’re the lucky ones!)

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I totally missed the visual – hidden behind my shadow net – but the audio was pleasant. I was enjoying the flow of a well-running mosaic, grabbing one after the other exactly-fitting piece, with that pleasant chat in the background.

Everyone with young children knows it, this ongoing, flowing conversation about anything and nothing. Very harmonious, very cozy, it brings out the best in everyone

I couldn’t understand it, they were just a little too far away for that, and I was just a little too much in my flow. But I could distinguish the various languages. Flemish of course, the language of the country where they live, but also Spanish. The language of daddy. And in between French to their french neighbours. And en passant a few French sentences to the daughters.

Who understood it all, and cheerfully went along with all the language changes

Great, if you grow up in such a bilingual or trilingual way! That is a beautiful gift that you will enjoy for the rest of your life. The splashing and sniffing sounds of a child who’s just learning how to swim and is doing her very best, are universal though, and not language-related.

Perhaps their capacity of relaxation has to do with culture. Perhaps this family is champion because they are a two-component family, with Southamerican and Belgian roots. Who knows? There’s no scientific research on that.

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I secretly hope that this family – just like all the others who’ve been here – will be able to embed that level of relaxation in their daily life. Take your holiday home! (And leave your work at work.) That you’ll still be able to chat about everything and nothing with your children just as nicely back home. That you can sleep in from time to time. That you’re all going to do some nice things together, and you don’t even have a plan.

Don’t let it go, dear guests! Instead: hold tight! Keep it like this as long as possible!

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<< previous

We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and campsites, with a lots of fun things to do: swimming pool, indoor and outdoor games like pingpong, petanque, a FancyDressingRoom and a small café. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.

The old bathhouse is going to be a museum, where you can see how things have changed. Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation. We have some nice special offers on our site.

You can subscribe to this blog:

You’ll get it every weekend in your mailbox.

On Sunday morning we publish it on our Facebook Page, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

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